Easiest Citizenships You Can Get And Cheapest Countries To Buy A Passport
- Last updated on . Written by Offshore Protection.
Are you trying to find the easiest country to get citizenship & how to legally obtain a second passport?
If you’re lucky enough to have ancestors from places like Poland, Italy or Ireland, then obtaining a second passport is quite straightforward assuming you can document your family ancestry.
However, for most people who aren’t part of this fortunate bloodline club, obtaining dual citizenship or a second passport requires either:
Having dual citizenship allows you to become a citizen of two or more countries at the same time. While not all countries allow you to hold two (or more) passports at the same time such as India or China, most countries such as the USA, Canada and the UK do. There are also those countries where its a grey zone, like Germany, Panama, and Singapore where it is generally not allowed in theory though often done in practice.
Table of Contents:
- How To Get Dual Citizenship
- Benefits of Dual Citizenship
- Are You Looking For Dual Citizenship?
- Easiest Countries to Get Citizenship
- Cheapest Citizenships and Passports to Buy
- Getting a Second Citizenship in the Caribbean
- Cheapest Countries to Buy A Citizenship: Caribbean
- Easiest & Cheapest Country to Get A Passport in Europe
- Fastest Countries To Get Citizenship
- Best Passport To Have: Which Should you Choose?
Please note: Offshore Protection does not offer work visas services nor services related citizenship through ancestry. We only offer citizenship by investment and golden visa services. For more info on EU work visas go here and for EU ancestry info go here.
How To Get Dual Citizenship
There are four primary ways to acquire second citizenship:
Many countries allow you to easily acquire citizenship if you can prove that you have ancestral ties. This is especially prevalent in parts of Europe. For some countries, you need to prove that your parents were born there, but for others (e.g. Lithuania, Ireland, Italy) you can qualify for ancestral citizenship even if your grandparents or even great grandparents were born there.
Citizenship by descent is usually free, the process can be finished relatively quickly and is undoubtedly the best way to obtain second citizenship if you qualify.
The process of acquiring citizenship by naturalisation usually involves living in a country for a specific number of years as a permanent resident before qualifying to apply for full citizenship. Obtaining permanent residency is the first step which usually requires spending more than 183 days a year for x number of years.
The requirements for acquiring full citizenship can vary greatly from country to country. You could qualify for citizenship in as little as three years in some cases (e.g. Paraguay, Armenia, Dominican Republic), or well over 10 years in other cases (Germany, Austria, Switzerland). The specific requirements regarding how much time you need to actually spend in the country, whether you need to establish economic ties, know the language, history or constitution depends upon the country.
Panama is the easiest place in the world to establish residency under the so-called Panama 'Friendly Nations Visa'.
It’s a straightforward process that involves setting up a local company and opening a bank account with a fairly small sum. You don’t even have to spend time in the country.
And after five years, you’re eligible to apply for naturalization.
Naturalisation is the most time-consuming way to become a dual citizen, but it not the only option. Although it is affordable it is only for individuals who desire to live in the country on a more permanent basis.
Citizenship by marriage is another form of naturalisation. Most countries in the world can give you a second passport if you marry a citizen such as Canada, Ireland, France, and the United States. However, this is not a viable citizenship strategy.
Sham marriage arrangements are a bit risky. Not only can you get in trouble and kicked out by the government if you are caught but you are easy prey to extortion by the arranged spouse.
A growing number of countries are offering what is known as citizenship by investment or economic citizenship. These are aimed at individuals who are looking to acquire dual citizenship in the fastest and easiest way possible. In exchange for a real estate purchase or an economic donation anywhere around 100,000 USD Dominica and Vanuatu to upwards of 1-2 million for citizenship in places such as Malta and Cyprus you can get a passport in as little as 3-6 months. In fact you can expedite your visa processing times in Vanuatu for an extra 10,000USD and get it in 30 days making it the fastest citizenship by investment in the world.
There are generally no residency requirements or any minimum number of days that you are required to live there per year. In fact, you do not even need to visit the country beforehand, it can all be done online, the citizenship lasts for life and can be passed down for future generations.
The most popular places to ‘buy’ second citizenship or golden visas are the Caribbean Island nations. There are about five options available in the Caribbean and they are generally the simplest and most affordable to obtain.
If you decide on the Caribbean, you also benefit as most islands have no taxes, all the passports are ranked very well allowing 140+ countries you can visit with visa-free travel, together with the ability to live in some of the most picturesque and liveable destinations in the world.
Some of the best citizenship by investment programs are from countries like:
Though all have official economic citizenship programs or golden passport opportunities that can be purchased through a real estate investment or a donation of upwards of 100,000-150,000 USD depending on the country.
The cheapest citizenship-by-investment program, such as Dominica’s are currently at 100,000 USD and whereas others such as Cyprus and Malta start at seven figures.
If you’re flexible with your time and lifestyle you can obtain citizenship in one of these places at relatively little cost.
Benefits of Dual Citizenship
Some of the benefits of getting a second passport are:
Better Quality of Life
- Some countries are simply better to live than others. Many of the countries which offer convenient ways to obtain dual citizenship happen to also have beautiful locations, are affordable and give access to high-quality health care and education.
Increased Freedom of Movement
- For those who come from nations with weak/restrictive passports with limited visa-free access, a second passport is often the perfect solution.
- Many countries that offer dual citizenship also 0% taxation possibilities. It is possible to greatly minimize or even completely eradicate your tax burden by obtaining dual citizenship in a tax haven. Countries such as Antigua or Vanuatu for instance make it possible to live their without having to pay income or capital gain tax. However, each country has its own rules about taxation, and it may not be possible to completely avoid taxation depending. It will likely depend upon the second passport that you hold.
- In uncertain times, having a second passport can be a perfect backup plan in case you face uncomfortable living circumstances at home. The damaging consequences of unexpected political or economic upheavals, martial law, capital controls, violence can all be mitigated knowing that you have a solid plan B.
- Having dual citizenship opens a new array of business and investment opportunities in your new country of citizenship, as well as to other places in the world where there are strong economic and political ties.
Are You Looking For Dual Citizenship?
The benefits of acquiring dual citizenship are inestimable. Having a second passport can lead to significantly higher levels of personal and financial freedom, can provide you with increased security and a plan b if anything goes wrong.
Many are seeing the value of obtaining a second passport in today’s global economy. There are a variety of reasons and uses for acquiring a second citizenship, including:
- Visa-free travel
- Business opportunities
- Taxes reduction
Whatever your reasons might be, there are many options out there for obtaining a second passport. It is important to understand that the easiest is not always the best. Before settling on where you would like to acquire a second passport, you need to fully consider what it is you require from your citizenship and whether the country in question fulfills these requirements.
That being said, we will always be looking for the easiest way to do things whether that's for citizenship or anything else, so here is our list of easiest places in the world to get a second passport and citizenship.
Easiest Countries to Get Citizenship
1. Getting a Second Passport through Grandparents - Ireland
The easiest way to obtain an Ireland passport and citizenship is if you can prove that you have Irish ancestry, i.e. if one of your parents or grandparents are Irish. In this case, you simply need to apply for citizenship through the Foreign Birth Register.
If you do not have Irish ancestry, you can still become an Irish citizen through their naturalisation process by having four years cumulative residency over an eight-year period, followed by one full year of residing in the country.
This means you can become a naturalised citizen after five years residency. This can be reduced to three years if you have an Irish spouse.
Irish citizenship gives you the right to live or work in the European Economic Area and EU. It’s popularity and ease is shown by the fact that Ireland has over 14 million active passports in circulation, but a population of only four million.
2. Get Residency through Online Worker Visa - Portugal
Portugal is one of the easiest options for obtaining EU citizenship by naturalisation. The process is straightforward: become a resident of Portugal, and then apply for citizenship after five years.
The best ways are through their Online Worker Visa. You will have to spend at least four months in Portugal during the first year of residency, and thereafter at least 16 months during each two-year period.
Throughout the five years, you cannot leave the country for more than 6 consecutive months. You will also have to prove that you have sufficient means to support yourself. For wealthier individuals, Portugal also offers a fast-track residency option through their Portugal Golden Visa program. It is one of the best residency-by-investment programs in the world today but comes with a price tag of roughly 350,000-500,000 EUR.
While there are some financial and physical presence requirements in Portugal, they are far more lax than other EU countries. So, if you want an EU passport but do not have the right ancestry, Portugal may be your best bet. It offers an excellent passport and is a highly liveable country!
3. Get Citizenship Status in 3 Years - Paraguay
The South American nation of Paraguay has proven to be one of the easiest countries in South America to obtain second citizenship by naturalisation. The process takes as little as three years and is available to almost anyone.
The be eligible its required to keep USD 5000 in a Paraguayan bank account and spend a minimum of 183 days per year in the country.
Paraguay has a good passport which offers visa-free travel to 143 countries with most countries in Europe and the whole of South America.
4. Citizenship through Residency - Armenia
It is possible to become an Armenian citizen by naturalisation in just three years. The first step is obtaining an Armenian residence permit, for which you will need to make an investment in the country.
This investment can be made in real estate (which can be sued as your new home) and other qualifying sectors. You can also qualify for residence by attending the Armenian University. After three years you are eligible to apply for citizenship as long as you spend sufficient time in Armenia to maintain your residency.
5. Citizenship by Investment Program - Dominica
The Commonwealth of Dominica's second passport is located in the Caribbean and has an economic citizenship program established in 1991. The second passport program gives citizenship options available through a real estate purchase or a cash donation.
The Island of Dominica has a citizenship program that is one of the cheapest golden passports you can find. With an investment of 100,000 USD in cash or 200,000 in real estate you become eligible to apply through the country's citizenship by Investment Unit. The average processing time is around 3-6 months, with possibility of it being expedited.
6. Law of Return Citizenship - Israel
Israel offers one of the fastest and easiest paths to obtaining dual citizenship under their “Law of Return”. This option is available for all Jewish individuals or those with Jewish ancestry.
This even includes those who convert to Judaism. Those seeking Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return are eligible within a few months after entering Israel.
It is important to consider whether Israeli citizenship is indeed right for you though. Israeli citizens are forbidden from entering certain Islamic countries, and there is a long history of complex politics and foreign relations.
Furthermore, Israeli citizens are officially required to serve in the military for a certain period, however this may be waived in some situations. It is important to confirm whether this would be a requirement.
7. Friendly Nations Program - Panama
Panama is considered by many to be the easiest place in the world to obtain residency through their Friendly Nations Visa program. The requirements are simple to fulfill. You just need to come from one of the 50 eligible countries and demonstrate economic ties with the country to apply.
This can be as simple as registering a company and making a deposit of approximately USD 5,000 – 10,000 at a local Panamanian bank. The money can even be withdrawn after residency is obtained.
The great thing about obtaining permanent residency in Panama is that you don’t actually have to live there to maintain your residency. You simply must apply in Panama after two years to renew your residency.
After five years of permanent residency, you can apply for full citizenship by naturalisation.
The last and most recent development for Panama citizenship is through their Panama Golden visa, which allows a residency through investment, that gives you residency through 4 new programs allowing investment in real estate, stock purchase, or fixed-term deposit.
Cheapest Citizenships and Passports to Buy
Most of this article has focused on those countries which are easiest to obtain citizenship by naturalisation and other affordable means. However, for those who want to speed up the process and have the financial capability, the Caribbean nations offer some of the most affordable and easy citizenship by investment options.
The benefit of these options is that they are extremely fast (usually under 6 months in total), with expedited possibilities in 2-3 months, no residency requirements, the passports can mostly be done online, and you do not need to visit the country beforehand.
Getting a Second Citizenship in the Caribbean
These programs are called citizenship by investment and are currently offered in a dozen + countries around the world as a means of increasing government revenue. The state gives a passport to applicants who either invests in real estate or give an economic donation.
While there are a number of countries in the Caribbean that offer such programs, the ones that stand out are:
- Antigua & Barbuda
- St. Lucia
- St. Kitts & Nevis
In all cases, citizenship can usually be obtained through an investment and/or donation of anywhere between USD 100,000 – 250,000. You can find more information about these affordable citizenships by investment programs in our article citizenship by investment.
Cheapest Countries to Buy A Citizenship: Caribbean
There are many excellent citizenships by investment programs out there to choose from, but in this article, we will focus on three of the most affordable options. The good thing here is that these three programs are also up there with the best in terms of quality and simplicity. So, this is one of those cases where the cheapest might actually be the best anyway.
1. Dominica Citizenship
For a while, Dominicas citizenship program offered the cheapest second passport available at only USD 100,000. However, it is now tied in first place with St. Lucia. The process is simple: in exchange for a minimum donation of USD 100,000 to Dominica’s Economic Diversification Fund, you can expect to be granted full citizenship within 3 – 9 months.
Dominica also offers the option of making a USD 200,000 investment in approved real estate. This might be preferred for those with more free funds available and who wish to recoup some of their investment in the future.
Dominica’s passport is quite strong and offers visa-free access to 139 countries. These include the Schengen area, the UK and Russia.
2. St. Lucia Citizenship
St. Lucia’s Citizenship by investment program is younger than that of Dominica’s, but maybe even better value-for-money. The minimum donation requirement is also USD 100,000 making it the joint cheapest option. Thereafter, it takes only 3-4 months to be granted full citizenship.
St. Lucia also allows an approved real estate investment of USD 300,000, as well as the option of investing in government bonds. Experience has shown that the donation options are almost always better and simpler when it comes to these programs.
St. Lucia also offers a good passport with visa-free access to 144 countries. However, unlike the Dominican passport, Russia is not on this list. St. Lucia also offers significant advantages as a new tax home.
3. Antigua & Barbuda Citizenship
Antigua & Barbuda citizenship program is the third island nation that offers citizenship in exchange for a donation of USD 100,000. However, Antigua also has a processing fee of around USD 25,000 which raises the total cost to USD 125,000. This means it is not quite as competitive as Dominica and St. Lucia but still offers good value-for-money. Processing time is also around 3 – 4 months.
If one prefers the investment route, Antigua allows a USD 400,000 in real estate. There is also an interesting option of being able to invest USD 400,000 into a business if you are part of a group of other applicants investing USD 5 million collectively.
The Antigua & Barbuda is officially the strongest passport out of these three options, with visa-free travel to 151 countries. Antigua has one significant advantage for family applicants, in that a family of four can apply for the same price as a single applicant. This makes it by far the cheapest option for families or married couples.
4. Nevis Citizenship
Nevis and St Kitts have an economic citizenship program that is the longest standing program of its kind. Started back in 1984 it was the first country in the world that started to offer citizenship to people around the world in an effort to encourage migration in a country that was seeing an increase in people leaving the country.
It has become extremely popular offering its services for 150,000USD, or through an investment of 400,000 USD in real estate which must be held for a period of five years.
Easiest & Cheapest Country to Get A Passport in Europe
If you are stuck on getting an EU passport then there are two options that are particularly attractive right now.
Easiest Passport in EU - Portugal
There are several residencies by investment programs offered in Europe that offers citizenship and passport possibilities after residing in the country anywhere from 5-10 years. Most of them have a requirement that you physically live in the country for half of the year, however, Portugal offers a residency by investment that has almost zero physical living requirements (2 weeks a year) and gives you a full EU citizen with a passport from Portugal after 5 years.
The program requires an investment in real-estate for 350,000 EUR or a donation of 500,000 EUR. After having the golden visa for five years, the individual becomes eligible to apply for citizenship.
Cheapest Passport to Buy in the EU - Malta
Malta currently offers a one-of-a-kind program and has the cheapest EU passport that you can buy which gives you access to all of Europe through its citizenship through investment program. For 600,000 EUR the process takes up to 36 months, but for a donation of 750,000 EUR the application can be expedited and completed in 12 months. In order to fulfill the requirements, you need to rent a property for no less than 16,000EUR a year for 5 years or purchase a property of 700,000EUR or more.
This program has become incredibly popular over the last year, and will continue to do so especially since the Cyprus program closed and as a result remains the only program of its kind where you can get a EU passport in 1 year as other programs take a minimum 5 years.
Fastest Countries To Get Citizenship
Unless you are lucky enough to be a part of the “bloodline club”, then there are two other primary ways of acquiring second citizenship quickly. The first is through one of the numerous Economic Citizenship programs (the most popular ones being in the Caribbean), and the second is through a fast-track naturalisation process.
Fastest Countries to get Citizenship by Investment
St. Kitts & Nevis is the fastest country to get citizenship in 1-2 months. The country introduced the first citizenship by investment program back in 1984, and since then many other countries have followed in there footsteps that allow you to effectively buy a second passport by making a qualifying investment or donation. As a rule of thumb, almost all of these programs offer a fairly rapid path to full citizenship (usually in the region of 3 – 6 months), but some are faster than others. The five fastest citizenship by investment programs are:
- St Kitts & Nevis: Standard processing time for a St. Kitts & Nevis economic citizenship is 4 months for $150,000, but for an additional fee, it can be fast-tracked to 1-2 months.
- Vanuatu: the minimum qualifying donation to buy second citizenship in Vanuatu is $130,000, and can be expedited and finished in 30 days
- Grenada: Grenada is another Caribbean economic citizenship program that grants citizenship in as little as 2 – 3 months for $150,000
- Dominica: Dominica provides citizenship for $100,000 and can take anywhere from 2 – 3 months from when the application is submitted.
- St. Lucia: The processing time for the St. Lucia CBI program is roughly 2 – 3 months and costs $100,000
Fastest Countries to Get Citizenship by Naturalisation
Argentina is the fastest country to get citizenship by natiralisation which you can get after residency in two years. For those who do not have 6 figures to hand out in order to buy a second passport, or want to get citizenship in a country which does not offer an economic citizenship program, citizenship by naturalisation is an alternative.
This is generally a lengthy process taking upwards of 5 – 10 years; however, there are a handful of countries in which one can become a naturalised citizen much more quickly. Five of the fastest are:
- Argentina: After getting residency you can get citizenship in just two years.
- Peru: It is possible to become a fully naturalised citizen in Peru after just two years of becoming a resident.
- Paraguay: Paraguay provides the opportunity to become a citizen in just three years if you are lucky, although it can also take longer. Furthermore, the process is one of the easiest available.
- Dominican Republic: The naturalisation timeline for the Dominican Republic can be as little as two years. It does not always guarantee success though and in some cases can be longer.
Best Passport To Have: Which Should you Choose?
As always, there is no clear answer as to which citizenship by investment is the best option. It depends on each individual’s circumstances, needs and preferences. We have listed three of the cheapest options available. If you are a single applicant, then your best bet is probably to choose between Dominica and St. Lucia.
Dominica is more ‘Eastern-friendly’ as it offers visa-free access to Russia and is also establishing connections with China and the UAE. St. Lucia, on the other hand, seems to be more ‘Western-friendly’, and is a marginally stronger passport for now. Other budget-friendly options outside of the Caribbean include Vanuatu at USD 130,000 and Turkey at USD 250,000.
Finally, if you are interested in one of the more prestigious European passports, two of the best choices in the area are Malta and Cyprus. However, it will set you back about EUR 1 -2 million. If that is not a problem for you, we say go for it!
Please note: Offshore Protection does not offer work visas services nor services related citizenship through ancestry. We only offer citizenship by investment and golden visa services. Read more for info on EU work visas and EU ancestry visas.